Today marks the second International Day of LGBTQ+ People in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (#LGBTSTEMDay)
On 5 July 2018, #LGBTSTEMDay was launched. Created to give the opportunity for individuals and organisations to showcase and celebrate the work and the lives of LGBTQ+ people in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths), the campaign saw more than 16,000 tweets published, reaching millions.
“We were not expecting the amount of interest that the day generated, and we are happy that more and more people and organisations decided to be involved this year,” said Dr Alfredo Carpineti, Chair of Pride in STEM. “We hope to build on that success this year by highlighting the many LGBTQ+ people in STEM and their different identities, as well as pointing out many barriers that continue to remain in the fields.”
In the report by the Royal Society of Chemistry, Exploring the Workplace for LGBT+ Physical Scientists, it was revealed that a shocking 28% of LGBT+ people have at some point considered leaving their workplace because of the climate or discrimination towards LGBT+ people, while 20% of trans respondents had “considered leaving often”.
A key finding in the report was that a significant proportion of LGBT+ physical scientists had experienced or observed exclusionary behaviour. It was revealed that 16% of all respondents had personally experienced harassment or other exclusionary behaviour, while 30% reported witnessing exclusionary behaviour. LGBT+ respondents experienced higher levels of said behaviour (18%) compared to non-LGBT+ respondents (10%), while trans and non-binary repondents experienced the highest level of exclusionary behaviour.
60% of respondents believed their organisations’ policies and procedures were “supportive or very supportive” of LGBT+ staff, however 17% felt that they were “generally lacking or even discriminatory”.
“Going to an undergraduate institution in a small town in southwest Virginia was stifling and isolating. I would not have gone to graduate school had I not been admitted to a school in a city where LGBTQ+ culture is thriving - my goal was to escape,” said Rob Ulrich, Chair of Queers in STEM.
There are nine organising groups involved in #LGBTSTEMDay; PrideinSTEM, House of STEM, InterEngineering, OUT in STEM, LGBTQSTEM, 500 Queer Scientists, Queer in STEM, Queer in Science and LGBT+ Physics.
All of these organisations are operating in the world of LGBT+ STEM, and volunteers from these groups dedicate their free time to coordinate the events and helping the supporting organisations on how to best mark this day.
“It’s fantastic to be involved in LGBT+ STEM Day, and especially this year with more international groups. We’ve grown so much as a community in the last five years, but we still have a long way to go,” said Dr Alex Bond, from LGBTQ STEM.
Currently, there are 50 organisations globally supporting #LGBTSTEMDay. From hosting the LGBTSTEM logo on their website and contributing to the conversation on social media, to running events and charity bake sales, and working with the internal LGBTQ+ groups and senior members to mark the day.
“This is a grassroots initiative, and we hope to see people mark and celebrate LGBTSTEMDay in different ways that reflect the diversity of our community,” said Dr Shaun O’Boyle, Co-Chair of House of STEM. “We’re particularly excited about events and discussions that call for action, and that focus on those who are most marginalised.”
#LGBTSTEMDay is a small step taken by a group of people in the community, with the hopes of benefiting the wider LGBTQ+ community and others. “It’s just another bit in the global push for equality, diversity, inclusion and belonging in STEM” writes Pride in Stem.
“We hope that this day becomes more and more community-led, and it is our hope that we can involved more people and more LGBTQ+ organisations every year. The changes we hope to see won’t come easily. We need to constantly work to spread our message and continue to push for improvement for underrepresented groups in STEM.”
How to support LGBTSTEMDay
Join the conversation on social media using #LGBTSTEMDay - share stories, images and videos of yourself or those who inspire you.
If you or your organisation want to get involved, Pride in Stem have created a LGBTSTEM Day Toolkit packed full of information, from hosting charity coffee mornings, journal clubs and book clubs, to supporting the day online, as well as plenty of recommended videos and reads.
For more information, visit Pride in Stem.